I subscribe to a number of teaching sites, magazines, and on-line tools. Two sites, Choice Literacy and The Two Sisters (Daily 5), send out their articles and ideas on the weekends. I always assumed that’s because teaching is done for the week, and teachers are ready for reflection. I realize it’s probably because they spent a week sifting through materials to develop that week’s theme. Funny how we see things.
This week’s focus for Choice Literacy was when you don’t know enough to know you don’t know what you’re doing, and how that progression changes. This led to an article about classroom management chaos. I don’t know why I decided I needed to read it because this isn’t usually an issue for me. However, yesterday it was. The most striking line was this: Harry Wong reminds us that yelling and screaming are unbecoming to our profession.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I yelled yesterday. I don’t mean I lectured, or talked sternly, or reprimanded them (which is usually what I mean when I say I yelled), I mean I raised my voice and told them very clearly “I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE BEHAVIOR BEING EXHIBITED BY 2/3 OF OUR CLASS.” I knew at the time I should have employed some sort of “calm down” strategy, but I didn’t. I talked VERY LOUDLY at them about how I was frustrated by the behaviors, how usual things like moving people wasn’t working because too many people were choosing to go along with behaviors that don’t support learning. I guess the only good thing about it was that I used my words — I was clear about my expectations; I was clear that I was frustrated and needed a different tone in the classroom; I was clear that things needed to change. The students, not having a choice, listened. The good ones, the ones that always get taken along on the ride, listened more. That always breaks my heart and makes me feel like a schmuck.
I realize, of course, that my first course of action on Monday morning is to rearrange the room (although I’d just done that). Perhaps not the whole room, but at least figuring out better or different spots for some. I also need to reteach our PBIS lesson on classroom expectations. What does it mean to be safe, respectful, and responsible. I think that I will have the students make T charts for this — what does it look like and what does it sound like. We need to come together again as a community. We weren’t there yesterday.
The only interesting part of this was that I had two students come to visit me after school yesterday. Both declared that “We were being bad. We deserved it.” One even told me he was surprised that I knew that students were cheating because, A said, “I heard X tell Y to give him the answers, and Y told him that was cheating.” It’s interesting when they feel the rails came off. However, that’s still my fault and my responsibility to fix it. Being nice to me and empathizing just confirms that I didn’t have the right environment for my learners yesterday.
Sigh… It sucks when you’re the poster child for poor classroom management. If 60 Minutes had been filming me, there’s be cries for my job (or at least some professional development! :)) Oh my…
At least another break is 2 weeks away.